Social media feeds are filled with things that people love to share – travels, exciting events, yummy food, OOTDs, the good life! It’s all nice to share these lovely things to people, celebrating positive aspects of life. But imagine if people share the beautiful, positive acts that they do, that have helped others in some ways. Wouldn’t that be better?
Ann Cuisia-Lindayag, CEO and Founder of Gift it, wants to have a different kind of “sharing” culture, one that allows a person to give and help others. She launched Gift it, an online gift marketplace for merchants and charity foundations, which uses crowdfunding technology, allowing family and friends to chip into any gift.
Generosity from the roots
Ann was raised by generous parents. She remembers that they would selflessly extend their hands to anyone who was in need of help – from relatives to the less fortunate. Because of this, she always perceived that the act of giving was natural for everybody, and that generosity was an innate character to have.
As she grew older, she realized that not everyone was willing to give a helping hand, just like what her family was used to. Then there were others who were willing and wanting to help out, but were not familiar with the charities, organizations and platforms, and found difficulty in donating to some institutions.
The one event that pushed her to establish the startup was when her niece asked their relatives to chip in for a present that she wanted. It was then that she thought to herself, “Why not make gifting fun and easy for everyone?”. She also wanted to integrate the virtue of generosity and invite people to practice it, may it be a present for a niece or a much appreciated amount to a charity.
And so Gift it was born. Its goal is to simplify gifting for any occasion and encourage the community to make generosity a lifestyle.
Believing in the vision
Ann started this company all by herself, which was originally a partnership with a few friends. But along the way, she was the only one who pursued it. It was her long term vision and the solution that it provides for anyone who’s facing problems on giving gifts that made her persistent on pursuing her startup. All the tears, sweat and hard work started to pay off when she saw that investors loved and supported her cause and came in one after the other, making the business more manageable.
When asked what she does first thing in the morning, Ann quips, “Toddlers, toddlers, toddlers!”. This gorgeous mom of two teenagers and two toddlers shares that since she sleeps very late, she tries to wake up a little later than her usual wake up time. But no matter how she tries to get enough sleep, she just can’t help but to be up for the toddlers.
Time management is always a big challenge for her. As much as she tries to find balance between work and family, there are times that she must leave the toddlers to get some work done but ensures to make up for it some other time. With her teens, she still finds time to invite them to eat out, even if they just end up eating somewhere near their house. Aside from managing time, Ann also learned to adapt to a lifestyle change. “As CEO of a startup, you don’t get paid the way an established corporate pays you. It’s a huge pay cut here so you need to redo your usual budget worksheet.”
All of these challenges, she shares, are workable with the help of her very supportive husband. She used to be in-charge of just about everything in the house, from something as simple as where to eat, to how the kids will be taken care of. But when she started to share the responsibilities with her husband, opportunities started to come into their household, which includes finding precious time and means to do her startup.
Cultivating a community of women entrepreneurs
Ann believes that women have different expertise and experiences that they can share with each other and achieve greater things together, may it be thru mentorship, collaboration or simple meetups. For women who are aspiring to be CEOs of their own startups, Ann has one piece of advice: “Ensure you are passionate with your work”. She relates that she started doing all the small stuff that startups do, even applying for all government documents. That way, she got to know the real deal of a startup and helped her realize the value of every task to make things happen. “Work on your vision. Nothing can stop a passionate and diligent person, not time, money or people.”